Birds make a home in swamp

By Country News

Thousands of birds have been recorded in Kerang Wetlands’ Hird Swamp as the results from an environmental watering project begin to pay dividends.

The project, managed by the North Central Catchment Management Authority, has been running for several years and has seen a series of flows and drawdowns undertaken at the swamp.

The flows were designed to limit the growth of reeds to expand the amount of open water, support the high diversity of wetland plants, rehabilitate drowned vegetation and provide attractive habitats for waterbirds.

North Central CMA environmental water manager Louissa Rogers said it was exciting to see such large numbers of both adult and juvenile birds.

‘‘Water for the environment was used to partially fill Hird Swamp in autumn last year, and to fill both sides of the wetland in spring 2017,’’ she said.

‘‘We saw an immediate response from a range of different waterbirds and responded by topping up the western section in late summer this year.’’

In February, up to 8000 birds from 47 different species were recorded.

‘‘Over the 11 months we have recorded nine threatened species — Baillon’s crake, whiskered tern, glossy ibis, royal spoonbill, eastern great egret, Australasian bittern, Australasian little bittern, magpie geese and the white-bellied sea eagle,’’ Ms Rogers said.

Under Hird Swamp’s environmental water management plan, no more water for the environment will be delivered for at least the next two years.

‘‘Drying the wetland out over the next couple of years will ensure the reeds don’t creep back into the swamp and, at the same time, waders, which are a different kind of bird, can come and make the most of it,’’ Ms Rogers said.